John Stewart Carter, of Los Angeles, passed away in his sleep on July 2, 2023 at his home in Los Angeles, California. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth Wall Carter, his daughter Christina Carter, her husband Joshua Oreck and his grandchildren Harper, Tess and William Oreck, all residents of Los Angeles, and his Brother Lindsay Carter of Ohio.
John was born April 1, 1948 in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Lauren and Juanita Carter. As a young man, he excelled in athletics and civics, and is remembered to this day by his friends and family as a person of exceptional ability and character. He was President of the student body at Forest Heights Junior High. Fred Wanger, his classmate at Hall High School, class of 1966, says, “John was respected by all who knew him. He was a great teammate to those of us who played sports and was one of the greatest competitors I have known. He was a highly disciplined individual, thoughtful and measured in his thinking, and gave 100% effort to any endeavor he chose. He was a fine gentleman. He was smart, thoughtful and considerate. He had good instincts when it came to interacting with others. He carried himself with dignity, while at the same time having a great sense of humor. He was determined to succeed, once he set his mind on something.”
John married Mary Slaughter in 1969 – their daughter Christina was born in 1972. He attended University of Arkansas and Oklahoma State University, graduating from OSU in 1970. He served in the United States Air Force from 1970 to 1974, rising to the rank of Captain. He moved to Atlanta, Georgia for a stint in restaurant management for Steak & Ale, where he met Elizabeth Thorpe Wall (Betsey) and they married in 1981. Soon after they relocated to Betsey’s home town of Charleston, South Carolina, where John pursued advanced degrees from The Citadel (MS 1984) and the University of South Carolina (PhD 1989.)
John took up a faculty position at The Citadel in Charleston in 1984. Over a decades-long career at the school, he became full Professor with the rank of Colonel, Head of the Department of Health, Exercise and Sport Science, Bulldogs play-caller and the school’s first Ombudsperson. As a leader at the Citadel, John was known as a tireless teacher and colleague, and an advocate for fairness, opportunity and diversity among the student body and staff. He founded the Citadel’s Ombuds program and served as the school’s first Ombudsperson as the school navigated its transition to coeducation in the 1990’s, helping dozens of Citadel community members mediate complex issues and conflicts. As a member of the Charleston and Citadel communities, John was an early advocate for low-waste living, and founded the Citadel’s recycling program and the Citadel Womens’ Club Annual Garage Sale. The John S. Carter Scholarship was established in his honor in 2003. John and Betsey, Associate Professor of Library Science at the Citadel, retired from the college in 2011.
In 2012, John and Elizabeth moved to Los Angeles, California to be near their three young grandchildren. John took a staff position at the California Institute of Technology in the Physical Education Department and worked to build and sustain the school’s athletic programs and facilities. He also took on an active role in his grandchildren’s lives, driving them to school every morning and events, playing daily catch in the front yard, and beginning a years-long project to clean up debris and worn out infrastructure in his beloved Elysian Park. Alongside the kids he tried many fun new sports like competitive stair-climbing, where he routinely placed in the top 3 in his 60+ age group. John became known as Poppy and formed close bonds with yet another group of friends from the Sargent Court neighbors’ group . Upon his retirement from Caltech in 2018, John devoted his days to park cleanup, neighborhood projects and his family.
John was a lifelong athlete with an affinity for fitness – his passing came as a surprise to us all. He inspired a calm sense of dignity and modesty in all he encountered, and it can firmly be said that would never have even wanted anyone to fuss with writing this here obituary. He was a rare and remarkable person of quiet honor, and all he has left behind owe him some debt of gratitude.
Carter will be memorialized in a service for all on Sunday, July 16.
In lieu of flowers, please send any donations to Citadel Women’s Club/John S. Carter Scholarship, at The Citadel Foundation, 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston SC 29409, or online at foundation.citadel.edu.